A cop lies dying beneath the blistering Arizona sun—a local lawman who may well have become the next sheriff of Cochise County. The police brass claim that Andy Brady was dirty, and that his shooting was a suicide attempt. Joanna Brady, his devoted wife and mother of their nine-year-old daughter, knows a cover-up when she hears one . . . and murder when she sees it. But her determined efforts to hunt down an assassin and clear her husband's name are placing Joanna and her surviving family in harm's way—because in the desert, the one thing more lethal than a rattler's bite . . . is the truth.
Jance ( Hour of the Hunter ) has created a taut and poignant mystery. Joanna Brady finds her husband, Andy, shot in the Arizona desert on the night of their tenth wedding anniversary. But this, and Andy's subsequent suspicious death in the hospital, is only the beginning of the destruction of the comfortable world of Joanna and her nine-year-old daughter, Jenny. The police decide that Andy, a sheriff's deputy, tried to commit suicide. He is further implicated as the hit man in a mob rub-out and fingered as a crooked cop with drug-cartel connections. Even his personal life is dragged through the mud, as allegations of an extramarital affair surface. Neither mother nor daughter is spared from the brutality of the accusations: the DEA comes after Joanna, while schoolmates taunt Jenny. All the while, Jance cross-cuts to the contract killer who shot Andy. The conclusion features a classic confrontation, but the post-showdown ending seems trite. Until that moment, however, Jance's tale crackles with tension. Joanna's struggle and pain are affecting; Jance writes with an understanding that character is destiny.